Creeper Lagoon Broke But Zen

Band spent three years, rumored $1 million on Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday.

It's rumored that the nearly three years of work spent on Creeper Lagoon's DreamWorks debut, Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday, cost more than $1 million.

"Yeah, I want to correct that rumor," guitarist/singer Sharky Laguana said. "It actually cost $3.5 million."

All jokes aside, it would seem that deep in debt is the last place an up-and-coming rock band would want to be, but the guys in San Francisco's Creeper Lagoon seem to have reached a Zen-like state where it doesn't really matter anymore.

"We don't feel any pressure at all," Laguana said. "We were broke before we did this, and we're broke now. What's the big difference?"

His bandmate and fellow Cincinnati refugee, singer/guitarist Ian Sefchick, agreed. "I did [feel pressure] when I was making the record, but now I've completely resigned to everything. At a certain point you start realizing that the pressure is f---ing up the way you do art."

Take Back the Universe, which hit stores last month, features elements of their dreamy drum-loop-and-sample-friendly LP I Become Small and Go, which first turned heads their way in 1998.

It also includes a number of radio-ready rock rave-ups, such as the first single, Wrecking Ball. The song, which starts out with a lone acoustic guitar before blasting into an arena-rock-sized riff, features Third Eye Blind-like "do, do, do ... do, do, do" harmonies and Sefchick's plaintive but sing-along "Hey, I'm coming down/ Like a wrecking ball" chorus.

On songs like "Under the Tracks" and "Dead Man Saloon," the band — whose lineup also includes drummer Dave Kostiner and bassist Dan Carr — shows its Nashville side.

"We definitely have our country influences," Laguana said. "We just like music. Our band's about transcending boundaries, not existing within them. So if we wanna do some sort of Bad Brains heavy-metal riff, we will, and if we wanna bust out some Hank Williams two-step folk, we might."

Though surprisingly cohesive for an album four producers worked on, the record is far from homogeneous. The one-minute instrumental guitar-picking showcase "She Loves Me Not" separates the swirly "Sunfair" from the anthemic booze-breath apology "Up All Night." The 13-track disc also includes the dramatic seven-minute-plus buildup of "Keep From Moving" and the atmospheric dirge "Lover's Leap."

"Keep in mind we did this record over a long period," Laguana said, "so as we got interested in different things, a couple songs would stick out and be really good, and a couple songs from each era made it through, so that's why there's a lot of diversity, because it's covering a large period of time."

While "Wrecking Ball" has yet to smash through the wall of rock radio ("It's just a Limp Bizkit world right now," Laguana said), the album is doing well at college stations, peaking at #5 recently on the CMJ Top 200, where it now sits at #7.

On Sunday the band wrapped up an opening stint on the Guided by Voices tour in Philadelphia, and the show was taped for the HBO live music series "Reverb." An HBO spokesperson said the Creeper Lagoon/Guided by Voices episode will probably air in the fall.

After a half-dozen more Stateside shows, Creeper Lagoon will head to Europe to play with ex-Pavement guitarist Scott Kannberg's new band, Preston School of Industry, and J Mascis. Upon their return home, the group plans to hook up with Scottish rockers Idlewild for a U.S. tour, Laguana said.